Thursday, February 03, 2005

Being observed

I'm at that point in the slog towards tenure where it's time for my colleagues to observe me in the classroom. My first "visitor" is coming tomorrow. I actually have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I really do value this colleague's input and perspective, especially on teaching matters, so I'm interested in hearing this person's opinion on how I'm doing. I mean, I'm pretty comfortable with my classroom style, but I sometimes wonder how it comes across to others. On the other hand, because this person is somewhat prestigious, I worry that his/her presence in the classroom will affect the classroom dynamic. And part of the plan for tomorrow's class is discussion, which is not a normal everyday occurrence in my classroom (or my field, for that matter), so the students will be a bit out of their element tomorrow anyway. I know that I can't worry about what my colleague's presence may do to the flow of my class, but it is something that will be on my mind....especially if the discussion lulls a bit.

Surprisingly, I am not at all nervous about being observed. When I tell people this, they are shocked, like I should be in full panic mode. Maybe because the classroom is a bit of a "sacred space" to those who teach? "Sacred" in the sense that there is a certain comfort, or balance, that develops between the teacher and the students. And maybe criticising what goes on in this space, or even just observing what goes on in this space, feels more personal than it otherwise should.....I don't know. My perspective is that I have faith in what I'm doing and how I do it, but I know that I can improve, and I hope that my "visitors" will be able to help me to do so by observing what I'm already doing right and wrong.

We'll see if I feel the same way tomorrow. :)

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